Against all odds, Limehouse Point seems destined to remain natural.
The Lowcountry — its birds and birdwatchers, animals and marine life, kayakers, bicyclists and walkers — will be the better for it.
The property is adjacent to a subdivision and in the shadow of a busy bridge, and not long ago it was on the verge of being developed.
But thanks to two conservation-minded couples, Jenny and Mike Messner and Betsy and Paul Shiverick, the 87-acre site will become Charleston County’s new park.
Located on the Stono River and Rantowles Creek, the new park site is at the southern end of the West Ashley Greenway and along a proposed “blueway” or paddling trail.
Eventually, the Greenway could be part of a bikeway from Maine to Florida; the blueway, part of a proposed saltwater paddling trail from Virginia to around Florida.
Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission acquired the property free from the Messners and Shivericks, who acquired it from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Previously, a would-be developer failed and the bank that foreclosed on the property also failed.
The PRC has demonstrated with other recently acquired properties that it appreciates the need for natural green space as well as active parks. And while plans for Limehouse Point haven’t been firmed up, PRC’s aim is to conserve it as a passive trail park. Officials are not even sure that they will be allowed to build a 700-foot bridge from the mainland to a 12-acre island, which is part of the property.
Even without that, it is accessible by kayakers and could be provided with restrooms, camping sites or picnic tables. But even without those amenities, the gift to PRC will mean a boost for the area’s quality of life.
When they approved a special sales tax in 2004, voters of Charleston County said plainly that they want green space to be protected and are willing to pay for it.
Local non-profits, including the Lowcountry Open Land Trust, the Edisto Island Land Trust, the Nature Conservancy and Mount Pleasant Nature Conservancy also have made significant progress toward that same end.
The gift to PRC of Limehouse Point — waterfront green space with sweeping views, hardwoods and abundant birdlife — is a remarkable contribution to Charleston County and its residents.